07/15/2012 8:37AM

Evangeline Downs: Unitas digs deep to win Oak Hall Stakes


OPELOUSAS, La. – Prominent from the outset, 6-1 outsider Unitas slowly edged away in the late going to capture Saturday night’s $50,000 Oak Hall Stakes at Evangeline Downs.

Dance Caller, who helped set the early pace while inside the winner, gave ground grudgingly in the late going to finish three-quarters of a length back in second and 1 3/4 lengths in front of favored Crystal Moment who was ridden by a visiting Calvin Borel. Second choice Sweetsouthernmoon came next, while defending Oak Hall champ Southern Style reported home a disinterested seventh in the field of nine.

Under steady handling by veteran Gerard Melancon, Unitas broke well and dueled with the runner-up through early fractions of 22.86 seconds and 45.28. Still headed a furlong out after a three-quarter split of 1:09.58, the winner dug in during the final furlong to prove best in a final clocking of 1:22.59 for the seven furlongs over a fast strip.

Trained by Brett Brinkman, Unitas ($15.80) won for the fifth time in 20 starts and for the second time in stakes company. The son of Japanese-bred sire Sunday Break has now earned more than $193,000.